South Hetton

South Hetton

Holy Trinity, South Hetton

The registers for the church of Holy Trinity at South Hetton date from 1838. Not until January 13, 1863 though did it become a separate parish from Easington. The graveyard contains the remains of many of those killed in the Haswell Colliery Disaster of 1844. The church was built and paid for by the Burdon family of Castle Eden.

Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office
Holy Trinity, South Hetton, Baptisms 1838-1971
Holy Trinity, South Hetton, Marriages 1863-1966
Holy Trinity, South Hetton, Burials 1838-1961

Population changes in the 19th. Century for South Hetton and Haswell (combined) were:

1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
Haswell & Sth Hetton 93 114 115 263 3981 4356 4165 5623 6156 6276 5512

All of the above census returns for South Hetton/Haswell 1841-1901 have been transcribed and are available on this site.

The sinking of South Hetton Colliery was commenced on March 1 1831 by Colonel Thomas Braddyll’s South Hetton Coal Company. It was the first colliery inside the modern-day boundaries of Easington District. Simultaneously Colonel Braddyll began building a waggonway from the pit to Lord Londonderry’s new port and town of Seaham Harbour via Cold Hesledon. The new line was ready in 1833 just in time to transport the first coals for export. The Braddyll Railway was destined to last two years longer than its parent colliery, being destroyed at Parkside in Seaham by local people digging for coal during the Miners’ Strike of 1984-85. In 1835 Haswell Colliery, newly opened, was connected to the waggonway. Shotton Colliery, also brand new, was joined to the line in c.1840.

In the same year that the sinking of South Hetton Colliery and the construction of the Braddyll Railway began the Sunderland Dock Company began to push through a passenger and freight line in the direction of Durham via Murton, with a branch line to the projected new collieries at South Hetton and Haswell. This passed through South Hetton which was given its own station. Completed by 1835 the directors of the new line were unconvinced by the early locomotives produced by George Stephenson and others and instead opted for fixed engines which could manage steep gradients far better. Later locomotives had the power to cope with gradients but by then it was too late and the company was stuck with the archaic method of transport until it was taken over by the giant North Eastern Railway in 1854.

The advantage of fixed engines was that they overcame the necessity for much of the excavation work required to make a railway line as level as possible. Consequently, for reasons of economy, the Sunderland to Durham (Shincliffe) & Haswell ended up with some of the steepest gradients in the British railway network and was later used to test the power and brakes on new models of locomotives. From Ryhope to Haswell via Seaton, Murton Junction and South Hetton was a continuous upslope. One night in the 1890s the brakes on a downtrack loco failed at Murton and the runaway train raced past Seaton before derailing itself on the curve ahead. Several people were killed.

The disadvantage to fixed engines was that they made a journey tortuous in the extreme due to the need to change haulage equipment for each leg of a journey. From Sunderland to Ryhope, which was flat, the trains were hauled by a locomotive. There the loco was replaced by a chain connected to the fixed engine house at Murton Junction. The coaches were then pulled uphill, stopping at Seaton on the way. At Murton the chain was changed for another one connected to Haswell fixed engine house. To get to Durham was even more complicated. It was necessary to change trains at Murton Junction and gravity brought the coaches (still connected by a chain) downhill to Hetton. From there to Durham (Shincliffe) via Pittington, Broomside and Sherburn House was comparatively flat but there were several more fixed engines to attatch to en route. It was barely quicker than walking but this method of transport was used some 20 years after the development of powerful locos which could do the entire journey on their own regardless of the gradients.

From 1835 onwards therefore, a very early date in railway history, the infant community of South Hetton was directly connected to the outside world. Sunderland was now just 35 minutes away and London could be reached within a day. Though hundreds of thousands of people must have used South Hetton station in its heyday few photos of it are known to have survived.

South Hetton Miners Killed in the Murton Colliery Explosion of 1848

On August 15 1848 an explosion at Murton, sister pit of South Hetton (same owners), killed 14 men and boys, most of whom actually lived at South Hetton. Their names are listed below (in brackets their place of residence according to the census returns):

Matthew Besom, 16 (No Trace in 1841 census of SH (South Hetton) & M (Murton)
John Dickenson, 12 (No Trace at SH & M 1841)
Edward Noble, 23 (Resident at South Hetton 1841)
Edward Haddick or Haddock (No Trace at SH & M in 1841)
William Raffell or Raffle, 32 (Family present at South Hetton 1851)
Christopher Raffell or Raffle, 10 (Family present at SH in 1851)
William Baldwin, 25 (No trace at SH & M)
James Hall, 40 (Resident at South Hetton 1841)
Thomas Stubbs, 27 (Resident at South Hetton 1841)
Joseph Tones, 66 (No Trace at SH & M)
Richard Bloomfield, 20 (His family were at South Hetton in 1841 ?)
David Rumley, 12 (Resident at South Hetton in 1841)
John Robson, a boy (age not specified in newspapers) (Resident at South Hetton 1841)
Thomas Lawson senior, 41 (Resident at South Hetton 1841)

Thomas Lawson junior, 14, was badly burnt and for days he hovered between life and death at his home in South Hetton. At last he pulled through.

The Durham Chronicle covered the inquest at which the following were called as witnesses:

Henry Pace, Overman (Resident at South Hetton 1841)
Anthony Gray (Resident at South Hetton 1841)
John Robinson (At least four man and boys with this name were resident at South Hetton & Murton in 1841; we know only that the 15-yr-old son John of Stephen and Isabella Robinson of South Hetton was not the John who was killed, because he has been traced forward)
John Teasdale (Resident at South Hetton in 1841)
James Dixon, a boy (Resident at South Hetton 1841)
William Armstrong, Viewer at Wingate Grange Colliery
Thomas Jones of Murton (Not present at South Hetton or Murton in 1841 & 1851)
Thomas Graydon of Murton (Resident at Murton 1841)
Edward Potter, Viewer of Murton Colliery (Resident at South Hetton as manager of that concern in 1841).

The verdict of the jury was ‘Accidental Death. No blame attributable to anyone’

We can perhaps still learn much from the parish records about the early history of the village, but there are precious few clues from the available census returns. In 1841, eight years after the first coal was produced, the enumerator noted the existence of ‘East Side’ (Quality Row, Colliery Row, West Railway Street, Long Row, Waggon Row and Bridge Street), then ‘West Side’ (with no further addresses given). As none of these streets was ever mentioned again in later censuses the information is virtually useless to us. However he was downright informative compared to the efforts of the enumerators in the next three censuses, each of whom described everything in the village as ‘South Hetton’. So the first four censuses, 1841-71 inclusive, tell us almost nothing. We have only the censuses of 1881 and 1891 and the map of 1897 to draw upon for additional information.

In 1881 the enumerator at last mentioned Front Street (East & West), William Square, Gale Street, Chapel Row, Dyke Row, Overmans Row and the infamous ‘Eight Rows’, all of which recur in 1891 and on the map of 1897. He also blotted his copybook by mentioning Waggonmans Row, Cross Rows East # 1-4, Cross Rows West # 1-4, Randy Row, Green Row, Stell’s Row and Station Row, none of which were mentioned again in 1891 and do not feature on the map of 1897. These must have changed their names.

In 1891 the enumerator mentioned Railway Street, Butcher’s Row, Chapel Row, William Square, Edward Street, Prospect Place and Overman’s Row, none of which were mentioned on the map of 1897. He mentioned Rawsthorn Terrace, Inman Street, Silverdale Street, Morley Street, Front Street (Low Side), Thomas Street, Clarence Street, Braddyll Street, Dyke Row, Gale Street, Richmond Street, South Street and ‘Eight Rows’ which consisted of James Street, Smith Street, White Lion Street (called Hall Street on the map of 1897) and Forster Street. All of these are on the map of 1897.

The mining village, owned lock, stock and barrel by the South Hetton Coal Company, was virtually complete by the time of the 1891 census. Council housing came in the 1920s. In 1947 279 of the old colliery houses were demolished by the local Council. This more or less coincided with the birth of Peterlee New Town.

In the 1950s passenger services ended on the old Sunderland to Durham & Hartlepool (via Haswell and South Hetton) line. The track stayed in place between South Hetton (and the projected Hawthorn Shaft which would raise coal from Eppleton, Elemore and Murton collieries) and the coast railway at Ryhope. Thus coal could still be transported from the few surviving collieries to Sunderland for export.

South Hetton Colliery closed at Easter 1983 after a working life of 152 years. As the defiant message on the giant mural you see as you drive through the village says ‘Gone but not Forgotten’.

In 1991 Murton Colliery and Hawthorn Shaft combine were closed and the last section of the old Sunderland to Hartlepool & Durham railway network was dismantled. One unlucky driver, travelling on the Seaham to Houghton road at Seaton, was dazzled by the morning sunshine and failed to see the warning lights flashing at the railway crossing. He was killed by one of the last trains to pass through, whose job was to take up the railway behind it. The entire trackbed of this beautiful old railway from Ryhope (A19 Flyover) to Hart Station (some 11 miles) has now been turned into a continuous walkway.

Some South Hetton Street Names

Clarence Street was named after William, 3rd son of King George III, Duke of Clarence and later King William IV (1830-37), who was godfather to Colonel Braddyll’s sixth child Clarence in 1813. Colonel Braddyll’s full name was Thomas Richmond Gale Braddyll.

— by Tony Whitehead

Haswell Colliery & the Disaster of September 1844

Haswell Colliery

The prospect of new collieries at South Hetton and Haswell and also at Wingate, Thornley, Cassop, Shotton, Castle Eden and Ludworth was enough to encourage the Hartlepool Dock Company to build a railway in the direction of all these proposed enterprises and beyond if possible. Simultaneously a different company, connected with Sunderland Docks, commenced a railway from the docks at Sunderland to Durham (Shincliffe) with a branch line from Murton to Haswell. An extension of the Braddyll Railway to Haswell further linked that booming community to South Hetton and on to the new port and town of Seaham Harbour. Thus Haswell Colliery was the target for three different railways. They all met up at the north end of old Haswell village.

In 1832 an Act was passed which permitted the Hartlepool Dock and Railway Company to build a line from Moorsley near Houghton-le-Spring, to the new docks at Hartlepool to exploit the growing coal export trade in East Durham. This line was projected to run past the planned Haswell Colliery. Estimated cost about £200,000. George Stephenson designed the new line which was to have branches to Cassop via Thornley, sites of two more projected deep collieries, and to existing pits near to Ferryhill. On its opening day on November 23 1835 the track from Hartlepool had only been completed as far as Haswell and just one branch line, to Thornley & Cassop, was ready.

By now the Sunderland to Durham (Shincliffe) Railway was almost ready and the main branch of this was also projected to run through Moorsley, site of another projected deep pit and one of the targets of the Hartepool Company. Also the Sunderland Company were constructing a branch line from Murton Junction to Haswell, so that they could tap into the new concern. Faced with this the Hartlepool Company promptly abandoned its plan to venture further north and west than Haswell. By 1836 the two railways almost met at Haswell and it was possible to travel from Hartlepool to Sunderland – but there were two different railway companies, with two different stations, each at a different height above sea level ! By 1855 both companies had been gobbled up by the new giant NER and engineering works took place at Haswell to properly join the two lines up so that through trains run by the same company could operate at last. Now Haswell had just one railway line and one station. The first shipment of coal from the new colliery passed down the waggonway to South Hetton and Seaham Harbour on July 2 1835. A year later the first waggon passed over the newly-completed Durham and Sunderland Railway on its way to the

Haswell Colliery was always problematic as a profitable concern due to gas and flooding. There was an explosion on June 16 1840 which killed one man and another on August 17 1841 with similar result. In both cases it was truly miraculous that the death toll was so small. These had been merely warnings of the catstrophe to come. Its owners in 1844 were Clark, Taylor, Plumer & Co. (The Haswell Coal Company). The same company also owned nearby Shotton Colliery.

The Great Strike of 1844 lasted from April 5 to the end of August. It was eventually defeated by the importation of large numbers of blacklegs from all over the country. Haswell too had to take its fair share of these. No sooner was the unrest quelled than an even greater disaster struck the village. Haswell Colliery was ripped apart by an explosion at 3 pm on Saturday September 28 1844. All 95 men and boys underground in the ‘big’ pit at the time were killed as were all of the pit ponies. Four men and two boys were saved in the ‘little’ pit . They happened to be near the upcast shaft, and the flame did not reach them; it having been stopped in its destructive passage by a wagon and a horse, and a number of empty tubs, which, by the force of the explosion were all jammed together in the rolley-way.

William Scott, Under-Viewer, had the unenviable job of descending the main shaft to see what could be done. Very little as it turned out. Some of the dead were buried at Easington, the then parish church for Haswell. Some were interred at Pittington Hallgarth. One was taken back to his family at Long Benton. Three were taken back to Gateshead. Over 50 were buried in a mass grave at Holy Trinity in South Hetton, the nearest graveyard. A memorial plaque to the catastrophe hangs in the church today.

The offical enquiry after the disaster concluded that there was ‘ no blame attributable to anyone’, which relieved the owners of any financial liability to the bereaved widows and orphans. 58 of the 95 can be found in the Haswell census of June 6 1841. Haswell Colliery was always problematical after that, opening and closing and changing ownership several times before it was abandoned in November 1896 in the middle of the economic slump which also finished Lord Londonderry’s Rainton pits and many other others in the county. The engine house of the colliery stands but is virtually the only monument or clearly visible sign of the area’s brief coal mining history.

Haswell Colliery Disaster of Saturday September 28 1844

Its owners in 1844 were Clark, Taylor, Plumer & Co. (The Haswell Coal Company) The same company also owned nearby Shotton Colliery. 95 of the 99 men and boys present in the pit at 3 pm on Saturday September 28 1844 were killed, as were all of the ponies present. The pit was always problematic after that, opening and closing and changing owners several times. It was finally closed in 1896.

List of 95 Dead

1. Joseph Gibson, 50, Hewer
2. John Gibson, 22, Hewer
3. Ralph Gibson, 15, Putter
4. William Gibson, 12, Putter
The above were a father and three of his sons. They can be found in Butcher’s Row in the 1841 census.

5. George Hall, 38, Hewer, Left a wife, Quarry Row 1841
6. Robert Hall, 12, Driver, Quarry Row 1841
The above were father and son

7. Hans Ward, 29, Hewer, Pregnant wife and 5 kids, Salter’s Lane 1841
8. John Ferry, 35, Hewer, Wife and 5 children
9. George Ferry, 14, Putter
The above were father and son

10. Robert Douglas, 22, Hewer, Wife and 4 children, Quarry Row in 1841
11. John Williamson, 34, Deputy, Pregnant wife & 6 children, Long Row in 1841.
12. Robert Williamson, 19, Putter, Butcher’s Row 1841.
The above were brothers

13. John Noble, 40, Hewer, Wife and 4 children
14. John Curling, 30, Hewer, Wife and child
15. Wanless Thompson, 55, Hewer, Wife & large family
16. Elliot Richardson, 38, Hewer, Wife & family
17. John Richardson, 14, Putter
The above were father and son

18. William Dixon, 15, Putter, Low Row in 1841
19. John Dixon, 16, Putter, Low Row in 1841
The above were brothers

20. John Wolfe, 25, Hewer, Wife and 1 child
21. Peter Wolfe, 20, Putter
The above were brothers

22. William Elsdon, 22, Hewer, Long Row in 1841.
23. George Elsdon, Salter’s Lane in 1841
The above were brothers

24. Henry Mather, 19, Putter, Chapel or Mary Street in 1841.
25. Christopher Teasdale, 21, Putter, Butcher’s Row in 1841.
26. John Teasdale, 19, Putter, Butcher’s Row in 1841.
27. Stephen Teasdale, 17, Putter, Butcher’s Row in 1841
The above were brothers

28. Michael Thirlaway, 18, Putter, Butcher’s Row in 1841.
29. Ralph Surtees, 19, Putter, Cousin of the below two, Butcher’s Row in 1841.
30. John Surtees, 17, Putter, Butcher’s Row in 1841.
31. William Surtees, 12
The above two were brothers

32. Mark Davison, 16, Putter, Sinker’s Row in 1841
33. Thomas Nicholson, 16, Putter, Low Row in 1841.
34. William Nicholson, 11, Driver, Low Row in 1841.
The above two were brothers

35. George Dryden, 18, Putter
36. Robert Dryden, 16, Putter
37. James Dryden, 25, Hewer
38. Thomas Dryden, 22, Hewer
39. Edward Nicholson, 16, Putter
The first four of the above five were brothers. The fifth had been brought up as their brother

40. Robert Hogg, 20, Putter
41. George Heslop, 20, Putter
42. Michael Clough, 14, Putter
43. Henry Clough, 12, Putter
44. Matthew Clough, 10, Putter
The above three were brothers

45. John Willis, 20, Putter, Lime Kiln Row in 1841.
46. Thomas Willis, 18, Putter, Lime Kiln Row in 1841.
The above two were brothers

47. John Willis, 12, Putter, Low Row in 1841.
48. William Gilroy, 16, Putter
49. John Gilroy, 13, Putter
The above were brothers

50. John Brown, 42, Hewer, Sinkers Row in 1841.
51. Daniel Lemmon, wife and 1 child
52. Thomas Briggs, 61, Long Row in 1841.
53. John Briggs, 25, Sinkers Row in 1841.
54. James Briggs, 10, Sinkers Row in 1841
The above represented 3 generations of the same family – a boy, his father and his grandfather

55. William Barrass, 32, Wife and 4 kids, Sinkers Row in 1841.
56. John Barrass, 10, Sinkers Row in 1841.
The above were father and son. John Barrass had been taken down the pit by his father on the fateful day to have his first look at what would soon become his workplace.

57. James Robson, 11, Sinkers Row in 1841.
58. Henry Wheatman (Weetman), 42, Wife and 1 child, Thompson’s Row in 1841.
59. William Wheatman (Weetman), 14, Sinkers Row in 1841
60. William Dobson, 50, Wife, Long Row in 1841.
61. John Avory, 39, Wife & family
62. Robert Rosecamp, 33, wife and four children
63. William Rosecamp, 22, Wife
The above were brothers

64. George Dawson, 53, Wife & 6 children, Low Row in 1841.
65. Thomas Moody, 25, Salter’s Lane in 1841.
66. Joseph Moffat, 25, Wife, Sinkers Row in 1841.
67. George Bell, 31, Wife, Sinkers Row in 1841.
68. Jonathan Bell, 28
The above were brothers

69. William Taylor, 21
70. William Dawson, 26, Wife and 3 kids, Long Row in 1841.
71. William Dixon, 46, Wife & family, West Blue House in 1841.
72. John Dixon, 21, West Blue House in 1841.
The above were father and son

73. John Padley, 28, West Blue House in 1841.
74. John Parkinson, 28, Quarry Row in 1841.
75. Robert Carr, 26, Wife & child, Butcher’s Row in 1841
76. William Farish, 30, Wife
77. James Maughan, 23, Long Row in 1841.
78. John Whitfield, 31
79. John Whitfield, 10
The above were father and son

80. George Richardson, 29, Wife & child, Butcher’s Row in 1841.
81. William Jobling, 29, Wife
82. Thomas Bottoms, 17
83. John Brown, 17, Low Row in 1841.
84. Peter Robinson, 21
85. Thomas Turnbull, 22, Long Row in 1841
86. James Turnbull, 12, Sinkers Row in 1841
The above may have been brothers. If they were they were living in different households in 1841.

87. William Routledge, 18, Butcher’s Row in 1841
88. William Nicholson, 18, Low Row in 1841.
89. William Harrison, 13, Salter’s Lane in 1841.
90. John Harrison, 12, Salter’s Lane in 1844.
The above were brothers

91. James Laylands, Wife and 2 kids
92. John Sanderson, 24, Wife
93. James Richardson, 41, Wife and 4 children, Long Row in 1841.
94. James Sanderson, 40, Wife and 2 children
95. John Hall, 10, Long Row in 1841.

Poem by George Werth
translated from German by Laura Lafargue (daughter of Karl Marx) in 1880.

The hundred men of Haswell,
They all died in the same day;
They all died in the same hour;
They all went the self same way.

And when they were all buried,
Came a hundred women, lo,
A hundred women of Haswell,
It was sight of owe !
With all their children came they,
With daughter and with son:
‘Now, thou rich man of Haswell,
Her wage to everyone !’
By that rich man of Haswell
Not long were they denied:
A full week’s wages he paid them
For every man who died.
And when the wage was given,
His chest fast locked up he;
The iron lock clicked sharply,
The women wept bitterly.

£4,265 was raised as a relief fund but this still meant a payout of only about £40 to each family.

In the 1841 census the enumerator for ‘Haswell Colliery’ mentioned the first streets of the new community – Chapel Row, Lime Kiln Row, Quarry Row, Butchers Row, Long Row and Sinkers Row. His successor in 1851 unhelpfully described everything as ‘Haswell Colliery’. Four years later in 1855 the North Eastern Railway (NER) took over the whole of the branch line from Hartlepool to Sunderland via Haswell. A new station at Haswell replaced the old two and through services between the two towns and ports was possible for the first time. Haswell coal could now go to Hartlepool as well.

In the 1861 census the enumerator mentioned New Row and Low Row, which must have been constructed at some point between 1841 and 1861. In the 1871 census there were no new streets at the colliery village proper but a new hamlet at ‘Haswell Plough’ appeared (later officially called Haswell Terrace). This had expanded considerably by the time of the 1881 census. Haswell Colliery closed for good in 1896 and the populations of both Haswell Colliery and Haswell Terrace soon decamped for pastures new. In 1896 the redundant colliery hamlet at Haswell Moor (Haswell Terrace?) was acquired by the Durham Miners’ Homes for their aged members. Today the site of Haswell Colliery has returned to the fields and the nearest coal mine is over a hundred miles away.

In the 1950s passenger services ended on the old Sunderland to Durham & Hartlepool (via Murton Junction and Haswell) line. The track stayed in place between South Hetton (and the projected Hawthorn Shaft which would raise coal from Eppleton, Elemore and Murton collieries from 1959 to 1991) and the coast railway at Ryhope. Thus coal could still be transported from the few surviving collieries to Sunderland for export.

South Hetton Colliery closed at Easter 1983 after a working life of 152 years. As the defiant message on the giant mural you see as you drive through the village says ‘Gone but not Forgotten’. In 1991 Murton Colliery and Hawthorn Shaft combine were closed and the last section of the old Sunderland to Hartlepool & Durham railway network was dismantled. One unlucky driver, travelling on the Seaham to Houghton road at Seaton, was dazzled by the morning sunshine and failed to see the warning lights flashing at the railway crossing. He was killed by one of the last trains to pass through, whose job was to take up the railway behind it. The entire trackbed of this beautiful old railway from Ryhope (A19 Flyover) to Hart Station (some 11 miles) has now been turned into a continuous walkway. You pass Haswell and the site of its old colliery en route.

— by Tony Whitehead

Haswell Village and Colliery

Haswell Village and Colliery

Available Parish Registers at Durham Record Office
St. Saviour, Shotton-with-Haswell, Baptisms 1854-1968
St. Saviour, Shotton-with-Haswell, Marriages 1854-1979
St. Saviour, Shotton-with-Haswell, Burials 1854-1967
St. Paul, Haswell, Baptisms 1867-1963
St. Paul, Haswell, Marriages 1869-1974
St. Paul, Haswell, Burials, None
Haswell Methodists, Marriages 1929-41
Haswell Plough Methodists, Marriages 1970-76

Population changes for South Hetton/Haswell combined in the 19th. Century were:

1801 1811 1821 1831 1841 1851 1861 1871 1881 1891 1901
Haswell & Sth Hetton 93 114 115 263 3981 4356 4165 5623 6156 6276 5512

All of the highlighted census returns for South Hetton/Haswell 1841-1901 are in our transcribed collection.

The original village of Haswell (Anglo-Saxon Hesse-welle, ‘Hazel Well’ or ‘Hazel Spring’) was sited at what is now called High Haswell, where the rounded hilltops offered an outstanding look-out place and also a very defensible position. On Pig or Pick Hill, between High Haswell and Easington Lane, earthworks of a pre-Roman settlement have been found.

Later the epicentre of the village moved downhill to the site of the modern village of Haswell which sits astride Salter’s Lane, an ancient highway which ran from the Tyne to the Tees via the Wear, the A19 of its day. For countless centuries Haswell remained a tiny agricultural community connected to the outside world only by the Lane which brought not only news, developments, improved technology and ideas but also disease. The Black Death came this way in the 14th. century and almost wiped out the population of Haswell and the rest of East Durham. The population of Haswell was never large enough to merit a church of its own. The nearest place of worship was Easington village.

The exposed Durham coalfield lay a few miles to the west but Haswell sits on top of the thick limestone escarpment which divides the exposed and concealed sections of the Durham coalfield. Until the 19th. Century the area had never seen coalminers. These were a phenomenon of west and central Durham.

The first exploitation of the concealed Durham coalfield was at Hetton (and later its sister pits Eppleton and Elemore) in the early 1820s, followed by Pemberton Main (Wearmouth) at the end of that decade. Inspired by these examples the sinking of a new colliery commenced at Haswell early in 1831, the first in modern-day Easington District. As had been the case at the Hetton combine and Pemberton Main however the Haswell Coal Company encountered great technical difficulties coping with water and quicksands and the project was abandoned after just a few months. In 1833 Colonel Thomas Braddyll opened his new colliery at South Hetton, linked to the new town and port of Seaham Harbour by a waggonway, thus pipping Haswell as the first coal mine in Easington District. In the meantime further borings were tried at Haswell in a field apparently obtained from the South Hetton Coal Company and these were successful.

Haswell Colliery had a brief but eventful life, finally closing in 1896. All that remains of this vanished industrial dream is the old engine house. The population of Haswell had collapsed by the time of the 1901 census. The coalminers went elsewhere. Most of them would eventually find work at the super-pits (Dawdon, Easington, Horden and Blackhall) which appeared on the Durham coast a decade later. The village of Haswell Colliery is long since demolished but Haswell village lives on. It is now a quiet semi-rural community and the nearest coalmine is over a hundred miles away.

— by Tony Whitehead